Hard Court - Robert Germaux

wow, that was unnecessarily wordy...

 

Miles Bradshaw was my first billionaire. I’ve worked for a few millionaires, a good many thousandaires and, occasionally, individuals with negative net worths. When law firms take on a client from the latter group, it’s called pro bono. When a one-man detective agency does it, it’s called not paying your bills. Since I like paying my bills, I try to keep the negative-net-worth clients to a minimum. Lately, it’s been a mixed bag. Most recently, a guy who owned a string of radio stations had hired me to find out who was sending threatening notes to one of his on-air personalities, and after that, a five-year-old neighbor of mine asked me to find Snowball, her lost kitten. I’d been successful in both endeavors. Ed Willoughby had given me a very big check, and Samantha Jane had given me a very big hug. Both the check and hug were appreciated, and both, in my estimation, constituted fair compensation for services rendered.


Whatever else I may end up saying about this book, get this: Germaux's prose is as smooth as silk, jazz, a baby's tush, a criminal in a Michael Jackson song, etc. I don't know how many times while reading this I was tempted to check his list of published works again -- he doesn't write like someone with less than 10 books under his belt (with at least one exception -- I'll get to that in a minute).

 

Jeremy "JB" Barnes is an ex-English teacher turned P.I. -- he's tough, into yoga, and making wise cracks. He's got a gorgeous girlfriend (I liked her a lot), an old buddy who's a cop (a fun character), one that's a computer expert (not stereotypical in anyway -- phew!), and so on. He's the whole package when it comes to P.I. characters -- I soon felt like I'd been reading this series of books for a long time. He's a little bit Spenser, a little bit Elvis Cole, and a heckuva lot of fun.

 

Miles Bradshaw, multi-billionaire tech-giant, is the owner of Pittsburgh’s new NBA team. He's down to earth, brilliant, generous and completely dedicated to his team. Frankly, I'd love to have someone like him in my life (no, really -- all down-to-earth, generous, multi-billionaires that read this should give me a call, we'll do lunch or something -- the Whoppers are on me.). He's concerned because people involved with the team are being harassed -- either by people stalking them, vandalizing their cars, or by screwing up electronic communications between suppliers and ticket holders. Miles is convinced that since the harassment is so varied in nature, it has to be coincidental.

 

But because this is a detective novel, naturally, there's no way that these aren't connected. What neither JB or Miles can figure out is how they're connected. Before they figure that out, they discover that the silly harassment of the team is really something on the fringe of a large-scale criminal enterprise involving organized crime, computers and spoiler-y things. I appreciated the friendship that develops between Miles and JB, something you don't see enough of in Detective Fiction (P.I.s rescuing clueless clients, teaching them life lessons? Dime a dozen. Two professionals bonding over mutual interests while letting each deal with their strengths? Practically unheard of.). There's a subplot that has nothing to do with these stories, that basically delivers the message that JB's lady love is a knockout and he's not to be messed with.

 

I am so glad that when he gets to the nitty-gritty of computer crimes, Germaux doesn't try to explain it in any kind of detail. JB just leaves his friends to it and goes off to do his thing. I'm tired of that kind of thing being explained like a technical manual, or with bad analogies while the tough-guy hero makes jokes about how he can't understand them. Nope, we get plausible thumbnail explanations and trust that the experts know what they're doing. Just like most of us do in real life.

 

There's some violence (pretty mild, really), some sexuality (very mild, really), enough to let you know that this isn't a YA novel, but not so terrible that you couldn't recommend this to your mother. There's nothing revolutionary to be found here -- but Germaux doesn't seem to be trying to do anything revolutionary. He's writing a good, straightforward detective novel, and he does that well.

 

Okay, here's my gripe: Germaux has clearly drunk deep at the well containing the advice about making sure you propel your readers to the next chapter with a plot development, cliffhanger or something else. Frequently, he does okay with that. But almost as frequently, what we end up getting is ham-handed and/or corny. You almost expect David Caruso to deliver some of his last paragraphs (no, not the cool NYPDBlue Caruso, but latter-season CSI: Miami Caruso).

 

I guess I have another one: the ending felt a little rushed. Not much though. Not enough to spend more time on. (making us even, I guess)

 

Both of these problems are easily overlooked and outweighed by the rest of the novel, and I have little doubt that in a few books (especially if they're new Barnes books), Germaux will have figured out how to avoid both of these.

 

This book was a real pleasure to read -- it felt like I was at least 4 books into a series. The relationships, the histories, the dialogue all felt like the kind of things that I'd been reading for years -- I just hope this means I get to read more of them. Germaux knows what he's going, and I heartily recommend them.

 

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2016/05/26/hard-court-by-robert-germaux